I think of this book as the epitome of what historical fiction can be -- it explained a transitional point in history in a human sense (how the peopleI think of this book as the epitome of what historical fiction can be -- it explained a transitional point in history in a human sense (how the people who went through it felt, how new it all was, etc.) without ever preaching about it, and while being entertaining at the same time. Enjoyable AND educational....more
I was in summer camp and desperate for books when, out of desperation, I borrowed a book written in blank verse and decided to give it a try. Wow! VirI was in summer camp and desperate for books when, out of desperation, I borrowed a book written in blank verse and decided to give it a try. Wow! Virginia Euwer Wolff is a magician with language; after reading her books, you almost feel like all emotionally powerful books need to be written in blank verse. "This Full House," the final book in her Make Lemonade trilogy, follows LaVaughn as she continues to reach for her dream of going to college, help her friend Jolly, and (in a somewhat minor key) deal with boys. The book seemed to have a little bit less emotional impact than the other two books -- I'm not sure if it's because the passing of a decade has haloed the previous two in my mind, or because most of what goes on in this book doesn't affect LaVaugn directly. The danger that she will lose her chance at college because of an effort to help Jolly never feels quite real or imminent. But the events in her friends' lives and her attempts to help them are real and immediate; I read the entire book straight through in one sitting, and came away not only engrossed but with, once again, a deeper sense of a character whose life I have very little in common with....more
Claire, an average-looking champion swimmer with a crush on an unattainable guy, a best friend who obsesses about her weight, and an unknown father, sClaire, an average-looking champion swimmer with a crush on an unattainable guy, a best friend who obsesses about her weight, and an unknown father, seems like a normal teenage girl -- except that during electrical storms, she has a tendency to temporarily "switch" bodies with other girls her age. Oh, and she regularly converses with her dead grandmother, who had the same problem (and who may or may not have died as a result of it). Aside from that, her life is pretty normal, until she finds herself stuck in the body of a bitchy but beautiful newcomer.
On the surface, this might sound like a book you've read before, but several things set it apart. First, Claire's voice is real, likeable, and funny. I would want to find out what happens to her even if it wasn't particularly exciting. Second, this book seems a lot more grounded than a lot of other teen novels. For one thing, Claire really is average looking -- it doesn't turn out in the last chapter that she's actually drop-dead gorgeous and could have the guy of her dreams in a snap, except she somehow failed to notice this until now. (When her old body's new inhabitant starts dressing in more sexy clothes, she doesn't suddenly start attracting guys -- instead she just looks silly.) The problems in her life aren't magically solved by her experience, and the lessons she learns are subtle and realistic without being any less important.
The conclusion seems a bit rushed -- there's no clear explanation of how Claire gets herself out of the messes this experience has caused. But I'm hoping for a sequel.......more
Catherine Jinks has an incredible talent for transporting the reader straight into whatever character and time period she's chosen to write about. "BaCatherine Jinks has an incredible talent for transporting the reader straight into whatever character and time period she's chosen to write about. "Babylonne" is a sort-of sequel to her Pagan chronicles; it is the story of Pagan's daughter, a feisty, angry Cathar who runs away from home and finds herself in the company of a Christian priest who knew her father. This causes trouble, since she believes that Christian priests are all evil and that her father raped her mother.
And then, well, stuff happens to them. The plot isn't the tightest, with soldiers and pilgrims and various other challenges wandering in to cause trouble at random times, but it's fun to be along for the ride. Babylonne's voice is compelling, and makes you feel like you're in the thirteenth century without feeling like you're being told what the thirteenth century is like. The ending sequence, with Babylonne trapped in the middle of a siege, is breathlessly exciting; and the ending -- while a tiny bit too abrupt -- is satisfying. An impressive feat....more